After the marathon
Updated 4:29 pm, Thursday, November 7, 2013
Within the last few weeks, nearly 100,000 runners have participated in various marathons. Recuperation may require more than just a few days to ensure a return to one's normal strength.
Rarely do I treat the injured marathoners immediately after the race; it is usually a week or two following the event. Most runners have a good cardiopulmonary result. They feel that they can continue to run at this high performance level with a sense of euphoria that often masks underlying weakness from the marathon. Runners often push their bodies beyond its physical limits. The result is injury, sickness and over tiredness. Researchers have found there can also be cell damage to the muscles. Fortunately, this damage is not permanent as muscle tissue is capable of regenerating itself.
The muscles act as shock absorbers. When the muscles weaken and lose their shock absorption ability, the other systems, namely joints, tendons and other parts, take the overuse and injury results. It is therefore, of the utmost importance that you rest after the marathon.
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The recovery period will allow the body to rebuild itself. One of the most common problems affecting the runner after a race is cramping, which is a painful spasm of muscle. Although it most commonly affects the calf, it may affect the hamstrings, quadriceps or any voluntary muscle, particularly one that has been put under extreme stress.
In the recuperation phase, with no serious injuries, one of the most valuable self-treatments is cryo-therapy, the technique of ice massage directly to the injured area. Coldness is applied during recovery and rehabilitation of acute injuries and is also used very successfully for chronic injuries including Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and variousshin pain syndromes. The most important benefit that ice offers the injured runner is the relief from pain.
One of the best recovery methods is to walk a short distance after the race. This will keep the blood flow moving through the legs without stressing possible injured areas. The day following the race, it is wise to walk a few miles, preferably in the afternoon, which increases the blood flow to the weak areas without any stress of running. If there is a problem that lingers, it is time to seek professional help. Recuperation need not be totally debilitating.
You can keep fit and strong with activities that exercise uninjured muscles. We recommend an alternative sport that will not hurt the injured muscle but will help strengthen these muscles. The best alternate sport is bike riding, which takes stress off the muscles of the lower leg and foot and places the forces on your upper extremities.